For three days in early November, the intense shaking of my house woke me from sleep. The first time it happened, it took me a moment after the trembling had subsided before I considered that an earthquake had just taken place. As an Oklahoman, I'm not used to such "natural" occurrences. Tornadoes, ice storms, months of 115 degree heat — yes. But earthquakes? No. We are not adapted to this sort of scare.
Why is Oklahoma, a state that previously only had about 50 small quakes a year, as of 2010, now experiencing as many as 1,047
? Well, some Oklahomans (as well as environmentalists from other areas) are saying that hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") is to blame for the quakes that are taking over the state.
Fracking is the creation of fractures in rock layers by the use of pressurized fluids. In Oklahoma (and other locations throughout the U.S.), fracking is often used to extract natural gas from the ground.
Critics say that the large amounts of water, chemicals and sand that are injected into the ground are causing a movement of fault lines, thus encouraging the newly experienced outbreak of earthquakes. However, others (like natural gas businessmen) argue in their defense that fracking doesn't take place deep enough in the ground to disrupt the fault lines that cause earthquakes.
As of right now, there does not seem to be a definite answer to this accusation. Nevertheless, the situation reminds me of my overwhelming belief that the people of Oklahoma need to begin questioning the sustainability and costs of the oil and gas businesses, and in particular, the act of fracking.
After three quakes in three days, I know we Oklahomans are ready for the shaking to be over.